Welcome to Vancouver, a city that offers endless possibilities for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking for a great way to experience the city’s natural beauty, you’ll definitely want to check out Stanley Park (X̱wáýx̱way). This urban park is the largest in Canada and boasts over 1,000 acres of lush greenery, scenic bike paths, and breathtaking views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. As local bike experts, we at Cycle City have put together this guide to showcase the best of Stanley Park and help you make the most of your cycling adventure.
Don’t forget to check out Part Two of this blogpost: Best Cycling Stops Within Stanley Park for an off-the-seawall look inside our famous park. Part two also includes places to fuel up along your ride.
Planning Your Stanley Park Bike Route
Planning your ride around Stanley Park? We have a few tips to make sure you make the most of your time.
Book A Bike Tour of Stanley Park
Let us take care of the details while you enjoy the ride! Our Stanley Park Bike Tour includes a perfect mix of seawall cruising and trail riding, with guided highlights about the rainforests’ biodiversity, the history of the coastal first nations, and insider stories.
It’s an easy 12km, 3 hour ride on dedicated bike trails, led at a relaxed pace. All our tours include your bike, lock, and helmet, plus a talented guide to lead the way. It’s the best way to see Stanley Park (although we’re a bit biased 🙂). Make sure you book in advance for best availability!
The Stanley Park Seawall is One-Way
That’s right, you can only ride counterclockwise around Stanley Park’s seawall. This means you’ll start at the entrance near the Vancouver Rowing Club and ride around the park exiting near Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club. The pathway has separate lanes for walkers/runners and cyclists, which are clearly marked, so be sure you’re in the right lane and traveling the right direction! The seawall can get quite busy in the summer, and some areas are quite narrow, so this keeps everyone safe (and happy!).
How Long Does It Take To Ride Around Stanley Park?
It takes about an hour to ride the Stanley Park Seawall. But if you have more time, we highly recommend exploring past the seawall. Maybe you’ll want to venture into the park to explore, or stop a while at the Totem Poles or the Brockton Point Lighthouse for some photo ops. We’d set aside at least 2-4 hours for exploring the park on bike. Choose a few spots to visit from our list below, then plan your route accordingly.
Best Stops on the Stanley Park Seawall
Stanley Park Seawall is one of the most beautiful and popular cycling routes in the world! The 9km scenic route takes you along the city’s waterfront, through dense forests, and past stunning ocean views. The Seawall is mostly flat, making it a great option for cyclists of all skill levels, and there are plenty of benches and lookout points to stop at along the way. Here’s our list of the best sites along the Stanley Park Seawall, in the order you’ll see them on the ride. All are free to visit.
Standing tall and proud in the heart of Stanley Park are the incredible totem poles that pay homage to the rich history and culture of our First Nations people. These stunning works of art are steeped in tradition and represent a fascinating glimpse into the past. You’ll find them just off the main seawall, at a well marked detour, and there are restrooms and a store nearby.
Each totem pole tells a unique story, and visitors have the opportunity to learn about the different symbols and meanings behind them. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or just love admiring beautiful artwork, the Stanley Park totem poles are a must-see attraction that will leave you feeling enlightened and inspired. But which totem poles were brought here from other regions, and which ones are made by our local xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) people? Join our Stanley Park Tour to find out!
Brockton Point Lighthouse
This iconic lighthouse is one of Vancouver’s most photographed landmarks, and for good reason. Situated on a rocky outcropping near the park’s eastern shoreline, the lighthouse offers unobstructed views of the harbor, mountains, and skyline. And, if you’re lucky, you might even spot some passing sealife along the way.
Girl in the Wetsuit & SS Empress of Japan Figurehead Replica
The Girl in the Wetsuit is a tribute to the city’s love for the ocean and its marine life, while the SS Empress of Japan figurehead replica is a nod to Vancouver’s position as a hub of international trade. It’s a truly unique sight to behold and a lovely spot for a memorable photo-op.
The Fox’s Den Splash Park
Need to cool off? This interactive water playground is perfect for families with children of all ages, featuring a variety of vibrant water features and fountains that are sure to keep everyone entertained and cooled down. With its central location and stunning backdrop of towering trees and natural beauty, the Fox’s Den Splash Park is an ideal spot for a picnic or relaxing afternoon in the sun. Plus, there’s a bathroom and change room available. (Open in summer only)
Siwash Rock (Slhx̱i7lsh)
This breathtaking natural wonder is a must-see for anyone who loves nature and adventure. Siwash Rock (Slhx̱i7lsh) is a 32-million-year-old sea stack that rises over 50 feet above the ocean. This place holds special significance for the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples, whose legends say the rock represents a warrior who was turned to stone as a dedication to fatherhood. Not only does it offer a stunning view of the Burrard Inlet, but it’s also an ideal spot for birdwatching and photography.
Without Third Beach, there might not be a Cycle City! The view from Third Beach, with its sandy beaches, gorgeous mountains, sparkling water, and Lions Gate bridge inspired owner Josh to move to Vancouver, and the rest is history! Besides stunning views, you can relax on the beach, take a dip, or grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby concession stands. If you happen by on a sunny Tuesday night, you might catch the popular Third Beach drum circle.
Second Beach & Second Beach Swimming Pool
The sandy beach offers breathtaking views of the North Shore Mountains and is the perfect spot to take a dip in the refreshing Pacific Ocean waters. Want to stay poolside instead? Head to the swimming pool, heated for year-round enjoyment, and treat yourself to a day of relaxation under the sun. This area also hosts many events, such as movies in the park.
Head to Part Two of this blog for the best cycling stops within Stanley Park and places to eat along the way. No bike tour of Vancouver would be complete without Stanley Park, so we’ve included it in all our bike tours! If you’d like to explore at your own pace, you can rent a bike from Cycle City.
With great respect for the original and enduring inhabitants of these lands, we acknowledge that we work, live, and ride on the Ancestral & Unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples.